An estimated 9,000 USB memory sticks were left in launderettes last year, when people forgot to take the devices out of their pockets before washing their clothes.
This was the finding of a survey by endpoint protection supplier Credant Technologies, which asked 500 of the 4,500 dry cleaners what objects had been left behind by people. One dry cleaner in the City of London said he found a USB stick every fortnight.
Credant said the survey was conducted to demonstrate how easy it is to leave mobile devices in public places. A similar Credant survey last year found that every six months 6,193 mobile devices including laptops, iPods and memory sticks were found in the back of taxis.
USB sticks can now hold as much as 10,000 Microsoft Word documents, 1.1 million emails or 500,000 contact details, it said.
Michael Callahan, senior VP at Credant, said: “If the data is sensitive or valuable then people should protect this information with encryption so no-one can access the data at any point - as it could easily end up in the wrong hands.”
According to the survey, other objects left in clothes pockets included keys, money, credit cards, and a Rolex watch. A dry cleaner in Hatton Garden said he had found an envelope containing diamonds.